the ravages of death

Yesterday while I was doing an assignment for a class, I had to read the story of Jesus going to meet Lazarus’s grieving sisters (John 11). Lots of people are familiar with the shortest verse in the Bible, John 11:33 – “Jesus wept” – but these two words hold more power and meaning than entire volumes of books. In two words, death is summed up.

This past May our friend Ian died way too young. He was 19. I would cry for hours at a time. I would take long drives with the windows down and the music blasting just to feel something. But the whole time kept wondering why my entire summer (and life, really) was changed by Ian’s very sudden death. I wasn’t that close to him. We were kindred spirits, definitely. But I asked myself all summer, “Why is my grief, of all people’s, so deep?” I didn’t feel like I deserved to grieve that deeply, to be honest. I almost felt guilty.

When Jesus got to this scene – basically the viewing of dead Lazarus – he fell apart. A commentary I read said that he was moved to his very core, his center of being,by a sense of “painful disorganization.”

He wept because he saw the ravages of death.

Suddenly this whole summer’s sadness had meaning to me. I was ravaged by Ian’s death, because he shouldn’t have died. It wasn’t supposed to be like this.

And then I wept.
And it was more raw than all the times this summer,
because I finally understood why I could.